Change hiring practices to win the best employees, says Alan Beaulieu
Dr. Alan Beaulieu
In an interview with FDMC magazine editor Will Sampson, Dr. Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, offered suggestions on the labor shortage plaguing woodworking companies. "If you are not focused on how to hire a millennial you are going out of business," he says. 
Dr. Beaulieu will be keynoting the Executive Briefing Conference in San Jose next month. This is an excerpt from a webinar previewing his presentation.   
We constantly hear woodworking manufacturers complaining of the difficulty finding qualified employees. What are your thoughts about the labor skills shortage in manufacturing. - Will Sampson, FDMC Editor
My thought is that it’s great for people who sell robots. And great for people who sell automated processes and better ways of doing things. And everybody who is listening who is part of your industry has to be thinking of ways that they can throw capital at a labor problem. And if you can find a way to do that, then do it. That will be your answer. That will be your out.
There is nothing on the horizon to suggests the labor shortage ends anytime in the next decade. There are a couple years where it will get noticeably a little easier but that’s not going to last more than a year or so. You need to be thinking long-term, strategically, how to I do this without people. 
And the other thing listeners need to do, and they are probably already doing that, but if you are not focused on how to hire a millennial, you’re going out of business. You have to find out what lights them up. How will you attract the A-players to your facility? And by the way the first thing an A-player millennial looks at when they come into this industry is your website, so if your website turns them off they are not coming in for the interview.  
And the second thing is, if you are an old guy like me or like you, Will, and people come in and you have an adversarial interview, where you seem to be making them jump through hoops and you have this attitude about you that they are lucky to have a job, they are not going to the job,  or you are only going to be able to hire C players. 
So it's all about adjusting how we view the hiring field - and adjusting ourselves to it. And if we do that, we can get more labor than our competitors, and we'll gain an advantage. And then you have to keep them, which is a whole other issue. But at least you can get them if you know how to play the game. 
And your place has to look the part from the outside. I was talking to a manufacturer a couple months ago about some of this, and I told him he had to get social media going and he had to be on LinkedIn, and he said, "I need to do what?"

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.